Cycling The Col de Joux Verte From Morzine
The Col de Joux Verte is not the most famous climb in the Portes du Soleil and has less race heritage than its bigger brother the Col de Joux Plane. However, it is one of the nicest rides in the area and still provides everything you could want from a day in the saddle in the Alps.
With a challenging climb, unbelievable scenery, a stunning alpine lake, a waterfall, a village of goats and 19 hairpin turns to descend, this really is a must do ride!!
The Lesser Known Route To The Col
The Col itself sits at an altitude of 1760m above sea level and climbing the Col from the northern side (as described below) will see you gain 876m of altitude. The great thing about this ride is that it starts and finishes right in the centre of Morzine and can be completed in either direction.
Tackling the climb straight out of Morzine along the Route d’Avoriaz is the more famous route. Also known as The Montee Avoriaz, this climb has featured in numerous rounds of the Tour de France, most recently in 2010 when eventual stage winner Andy Schleck battled it out with a yellow jersey clad Alberto Contador.
The Climb also plays host to a local event every August known as the Grimpee d’Avoriaz where competitors try to beat the record set by French legend Bernard Hinault, who in 1979 covered the 14km in an astonishing 33 minutes.
Although completing the Col de Joux Verte from the northern side lacks the race heritage, the ride is still challenging with a 14.7km climb and an average gradient of 6.5%. The middle section is particularly draining as the gradient rarely drops below 9%.
The road on the northern ascent is also far more varied and quieter than the Route d’Avoriaz which makes for a far more pleasant ride. The route is also a better option during the heat of the summer as it passes through beautiful alpine forests which provide some vital shade from the sun.
How To Tackle The Col de Joux Verte
Setting off from the roundabout by the Marie the route heads north along a relatively flat road towards the neighbouring village of Montriond. At the village centre turn right following signs for Lac Montriond and Ardent. Bearing right at the first roundabout and straight over at the followig mini roundabout will set you on course for the start of the climb.
The Jewel In The Crown
A further two kilometres of steady climbing at a 6% gradient brings you to the jewel of this climb – the stunning Lac Montriond. This beautiful Alpine lake is the third largest lake in the region and provides a haven for tourists in the summer. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy a quick coffee before the real hard work begins with cafes and great views at either end of the lake.
A two kilometre ascent at around 7% brings you through an avalanche tunnel to the alpine hamlet of Ardent. If you’re not in a rush, just before you reach the hamlet you’ll see a sign for Cascade d’Ardent on the right of the road and the waterfall just below is well worth a quick pit stop. At the hamlet bear left up the hill along the road to Les Lindarets. Here the road steepens with a three kilometre climb at 9%, through a series of tight, winding hairpins initially through woodland then into open pasture. As you gain altitude the views back down to the lake below and across to the Roc d’Enfer in the distance are simply breathtaking!
Cycling Through The Goat Village
At 9 kilometres into the climb you will reach the small hamlet of Les Lindarets, or goat village as it is known locally. During the winter months the village sits directly on the ski pistes but during the summer months it is home to a large flock of mountain goats who freely roam the streets.
Caution is advised here as you will have to be on your game to avoid not just the goats but the hordes of tourists feeding and petting them (many not realising they are still on a road) as well as the goat mess that inevitably ends up along the road.
Although this may well be one of the more unusual obstacles you might come across on your bike, it does provide a welcome distraction from the gruelling 9% climb you’ve just completed. As you ascend out of the goat village the mountains open up around you at the Lindarets bowl where you’ll see a variety of ski lifts that service the wider Portes du Soleil area.
The Final Push To The Summit
The Joux Verte continues into the alpine forest ahead, gradually at first with two kilometres at a friendly 5%, before the final two kilometres ramp up to 7 and 8% respectively. As you push on up to the summit there is a t-junction with a restaurant opposite.
The restaurant offers the perfect place to take in the scenery and enjoy a well earned rest. The road to the left at the t-junction leads up to Avoriaz, a 1.3km climb at a gentle 4%. It is well worth visiting Avoriaz and taking in its unique mountain top architecture if you have the time.
A Fast and Flowing Descent
Turning right at the t-junction at the top of the Col drops down the famous Route d’Avoriaz. This fast, swooping 14km descent has as many as 19 hairpin turns to tackle at high speed. If you’re able to take your eyes off the road the views as you descend are simply stunning as you look across the Morzine valley to the Pleney slopes.
As you descend further down the road you’ll enter the forest and snake below the Super Morzine gondola a couple of times before you reach the start of the village of Morzine. As you freewheel down to the bottom of the road you will eventually come to a mini roundabout where you will want to turn right and follow the road, slightly uphill at first then it will descend down to the roundabout by the pompiers (firestation). Head straight over and you’ll come down to the Marie where you started the ride.
Looking For Bike Friendly Accommodation To Tackle The Col de Joux Verte?
If you’re looking for somewhere special to stay for your cycling holiday in the French Alps then why not click here and check out The Farmhouse. A small boutique hotel in the oldest building in Morzine run by keen cyclists with all the cycling specific facilities you might need.